Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party


Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a special event held on select nights in November and December.  The party is similar to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party with special shows and fireworks.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party lasts until midnight and is packed with exciting events.

“A Frozen Holiday Wish” show, “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade”, “Holiday Wishes-Celebrate the Spirit of the Season” fireworks, and the “Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration” show are all on tap for this year.

You will also see lots of Disney characters dressed in holiday fare.

Oh, and by the way, it snows not once, but three times each night.  Once just before the two parade times and the third time at the end of the evening.

There is so much activity you might want to consider the Holiday Wishes Dessert Premium Package for a little downtime.  This way you have guaranteed reserved viewing for the parade and fireworks while eating your way through a buffet of delicious holiday treats!


A Frozen Holiday Wish

This is a thrilling show starring Anna and Elsa in front of Cinderella’s Castle.  Get there early if you want a good viewing spot.  Anna and Elsa are joined by rugged Kristoff and the world’s most adorable snowman; Olaf.  Enchanting music and a spectacular light show that changes the castle into a glimmering ice covered palace will have every kid smiling, no matter how old they are.

Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade

You can tell when the parade is ready to start because each of the two scheduled times for Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade will be preceded by a snowfall!


Expect to see lots of the Disney characters including Mickey, Minnie, Anna, Elsa, Olaf and much more.  There will also be dancing gingerbread men and reindeer.  Oh, and of course there will be a sleigh with the holly jolly old Santa himself!


Holiday Wishes-Celebrate the Spirit of the Season Fireworks

The highlight of the night is narrated by the world’s smallest announcer, Jiminy Cricket.  Most people like to find a place in front of the castle for this event, but the fireworks can be seen from just about anywhere in the park. During the show, there is plenty of storytelling and music.


Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration

In Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration we find Mickey deciding that the holidays are best celebrated with lots of friends.  The list of invitees includes well-known characters like Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto, Peter Pan and much more.  Together they ring in the holidays with more than a dozen carols, all in front of Cinderella’s Castle.  Of course, the castle is covered in ever-changing lights.  It is a spectacular show.


Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Tickets and Dates

You have to purchase tickets just for the show, and don’t delay.  If you want to be able to attend you need to buy your tickets in advance and they sell out quickly.  Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is only on selected nights and does not begin until 7:00 PM, but with your ticket, you can enter the park as early as 4:00 PM.

2018 Christmas Party dates are November 8, 9, 12, 13, 15, 16, 25, 27, 29, 30; December 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21.  Tickets start at $95 in advance and $105 at the gate (subject to availability.)

Disney’s Keys to The Kingdom Tour

Disney’s Keys to The Kingdom Tour

 Keys to the Kingdom tour

Have you ever wondered what the Keys to the Kingdom Tour at the Magic Kingdom is all about?  We took this guided tour (yes, it costs extra!) and this was time well spent for us!

Windows Keys to the Kingdom



The tour lasts about 5 hours. We were a little concerned it would not be very exciting and we would be stuck for the whole 5 hours. But, there was no need for concern.


We started at the Town Square Theater which is to the right after you enter the park and go under the Disney Railroad. They give you an appointed time to meet your group and guide.

The provided headsets allowed us to hear better in noisy places and the guide can speak lower in public areas. Right from the beginning, we learned about the many hidden messages along the street. Take note of the windows and all the writing on them because they all have hidden meanings. Additionally, we learned about Liberty Square and Frontierland.


Our “off stage” experience was a backstage ride in the Jungle Cruise and the Haunted Mansion. The tour guide gave us lots of information about special effects that Disney uses.

Keys to the Kingdom Tour


We toured the area where they maintain and store the parade floats. We were able to watch various groups practicing their acts for the parade.

For me, the famed tunnels were the highlight of the Keys to the Kingdom Tour. They are comprised of a series of interconnecting tunnels, with many rooms off to the sides of them.

Cast members dressed in their themed costumes use the utilidors to get to other parts of the park. Down in the utilidors is many offices, hairdresser, cast member cafeteria. It is also the place where all food and merchandise come into the park. It is then distributed into the park thru secret stairways.

Frequently, we had to move to the side to allow an electric cart laden with merchandise to pass by. The tunnels are quite busy.

Something I found very interesting is that the tunnels are actually the first floor of the park. They were built first and then the ground level was brought up to the top of them. What we know as the Magic Kingdom park is actually on the second floor.

There is a separate charge of $99 per person for the tour plus you need a park pass for the day as well.  For this, you get the 4 to 5-hour tour, lunch at one of the restaurants, a few keepsakes and everything described above. If you like everything Disney, this is a must for you.

To book your tour, visit Disney’s website.

Biking in Kissimmee

Biking in Kissimmee

Thinking about squeezing in a little Biking in Kissimmee while you are in the area………you won’t be disappointed!

Biking is a great way to get up close and personal with the Orlando area.  With the many bike trails in the area, there is sure to be one for you. You can even find places to rent the bikes, so don’t just think about squeezing a ride in, plan on it!

Read All about Biking in Kissimmee

Evenings at Pandora; The World of Avatar

Evenings at Pandora; The World of Avatar
In May of 2017 the new attraction Pandora finally opened in the Animal Kingdom. And it is everything Disney promised. We first visited it during the day and enjoyed walking off of earth and into an alien looking world. The mountains float in the sky, plants look like those from out-of-this-world. The background noise of animals and insects is a makes it a little bit eerie.
Although it was exciting and entertaining, it was nothing compared to the thrill of going back after dark. Pandora really comes to life when the sun goes down. All the flora and fauna illuminate in brilliant colors. The forest is alive with sounds from alien creatures.
We were able to score a fast pass for the Na’vi River Journey. It is not a thrill ride, and in fact is somewhat reminiscent of “It’s a Small World” at the Magic Kingdom. You ride a small boat slowly through a dark environment, but that is where the similarities stop. The scenery is full of exotic alien plants and animals. You even get to see a female Navi Shaman performing some type of ritual. The Shaman is billed as the most advanced animatronic character that Disney has produced.
Sadly, we have not been able to get a fast pass for the “Avatar, Flight of Passage” yet, but hope to soon. The reviews for this ride have been excellent!
Pandora, The World of Avatar is a great addition to The Animal Kingdom. Everyone should take the time to stroll through it and immerse themselves in the feel of an alien world. If you can, after dark is the absolute best time to visit.

Drink, Eat, Gather & Shop; The Best Winery in Kissimmee

Experience Island Grove Wine Company in many ways. Whether you stop by to drink, eat, gather or shop, this newly opened winery has something for everyone. Centrally located in Kissimmee, it is a must see.



Island Grove is more than just a winery. Yes, they produce some of the best fruit wines in Kissimmee that is grown organically and sustainably grown right on their grounds. Choose from a variety of fruit wines made from strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and apples. for those who prefer beer instead, order something from the onsite microbrewery. Responsibly sourced coffee and teas are also available.


The Garden Bistro has plenty to choose from of fresh sandwiches, salads, and sweet pastries. Made with wholesome ingredients, these foods are made with promoting conversation, contemplation, and community in mind.

Friends Gather


Meet friends for lunch or just take the time for a quiet break and make use of the indoor and outdoor seating that has the perfect cafe culture.


Browse thru the gift shop and find plenty of mementos to bring home for yourself or loved ones. Choose from wines to soaps to kitchen accessories.

3011 Formosa Gardens Blvd, Kissimmee, FL 34747
Monday – Thursday: 10 AM – 8 PM
Friday – Saturday: 10AM – 9PM
Sunday: 11AM – 6PM

For more information see their website

Discover Orlando

Download your FREE copy of Discover Orlando Today.

Find out what to see and do in Orlando with this Discover Orlando guide.  Explore theme parks, attractions, golf, day trips, biking, fishing and more in this comprehensive guide.  Added bonus is a 2017 Walt Disney World Crowd calendar and the refurbishment schedule.



Five Things You Need To Know About The New Security At The Parks

Five Things You Need To Know About The New Security At The Parks

Five Things You Need To Know About The New Security At The Parks

This week is the busiest time of year for the Orlando theme parks so we have put together the five things you need to know about the new security at the parks. With most of the parks reaching capacity daily, it is no wonder that your safety is of the utmost importance.  In the wake of our world culture at the moment, the three major Orlando parks  (Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Florida, SeaWorld Orlando) have jointly announced new security measures to help make your trip to the parks a safe one.  Here is how these security measures affect you.Five Things You Need To Know About the New Security At the Parks

Allow Lots Of Extra Time
The train station for Main Street, U.S.A. at t...
The train station for Main Street, U.S.A. at the Magic Kingdom in Florida. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you want to make “rope drop” on your next trip to the parks, allow lots of extra time.  A normal trip to the Magic Kingdom from our homes can take up to an hour and occasionally longer after you have fought the traffic, parked, taken the shuttle to the ticket entrance, taken the monorail,  gone through security, stopped at the lockers and rest rooms, and made your way to the rope.  With the new metal detectors in place, you will may need to add another 15-20 minutes.

Do Not Wear Your Costume


The parks are the most magical place on earth for all ages. Where else can adults dress like a princess and not look out of place.  Sadly, those 14 years of age and older are now banned from wearing costumes to the Disney parks.  You will be turned away at the entrance if you do.

English: Supergirl, MegaCon 2010 in Orlando, F...
English: Supergirl, MegaCon 2010 in Orlando, Florida. Camera: Canon EOS 40D License on Flickr (2011-03-09): CC-BY-2.0 Flickr tags: megacon 2010, orlando, florida, convention, supergirl, costume, cosplay, comic book (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Bring Along A Lot More Patience

It can be tough traveling with young children who can’t wait to get into the parks.  The old saying “are we there yet?” will be repeated over and over.  Bring along your patience and a willing attitude, along with some snacks and small toys for the little ones to keep them busy while they wait in the lines.

 Cooperate With Parks Staff and Security

The park security and ticket staff have a tough job.  They will be required to randomly select persons to meet extra security checks.  Cooperating with them will make your trip to the parks a much more enjoyable experience.


Be Aware Of Your Surroundings

One of the most important aspects of keeping safe is to be aware of your surroundings.  If you see anything suspicious report it immediately.  For a full list of the rules for Walt Disney World see their website.


Being safe is a matter of being vigilant, but you don’t want to let it spoil your family’s fun. Taking these small measures will help you have the greatest vacation of all. For more information about the theme parks be sure to check out our Insider’s Guide.


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For rental information please visit us at http;//vacationorlando.rentals

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Why Skeletons Will Make You Question Everything







why skeletons make you question everything


When you visit the Orlando Eye complex you do not want to miss a fascinating little museum called Skeletons: Animals Unveiled. Over 450 skeletons of animals from all over the world is sure to amaze and excite all ages from beginners to those with advanced knowledge of animals.
It is sure to beg the question: Why Skeletons Will Make You Question Everything?

Not only is the experience fun but it is educational as well. It was amazing to see the similarities and differences between all species.  Did you know that dolphin fins have five digits just like humans?  It does make you question everything about what you thought you already knew.

As an added bonus it is fairly inexpensive at $19.99 for adults, $12.99 for kids ages 3-11, and under 3 free.

why skeletons make you question everything

Why Skeletons Make You Question Everything

A few months ago this unique museum opened on I-360 drive at the Orlando Eye complex.  Our daughter (who has loved animal sciences since she was a little girl) begged us to make this one of the highlights of our Florida vacation. We were not let down.

There was so much to see we walked through the museum twice.  With each trip around we found new and interesting things.  Much of what we saw left us questioning everything about what we thought we already knew, like how is it that so many of the skeletons look so similar even though the actual animals looks vastly different from each other.


What amazed us the most was the section on birth defects and diseases.  One animal had died from rickets and you could see how the bones had been affected by the disease.  There were also specimens showing the results of severe infections and healed bone breaks.   We thought we already knew what infections and other diseases did, but here was proof that bones also can be strongly affected.

The Enthusiasm Shows

During our visit, we met Jay, the founder of the museum.  His love for what he does shows in his enthusiasm to share his knowledge of skeletal systems, and nature in general.  His biography explains how this love began at the age of 7 years old when he found a dog’s skull in the woods near his home.  He has not stopped collecting ever since.

Jay kindly invited my daughter to enter one of the exhibits so that we could photograph her with the extremely large male elephant skeleton, which is almost 12 feet tall. He then spoke with us at length about how the animal was acquired and processed by the museum staff. (View a video of the assembly in the museum here)


Fun Displays

The museum exhibits extend well beyond animal skeletons.  Other exhibits included myths such as cyclops and centaurs.

The displays do an excellent job of posing the skeletons in positions that capture the life and character of the animals as they were in life. One exhibit even has an array of farm animals interacting with a farmer. Some of the other displays included examples of giraffes, rhinoceros, orca whales, dolphins, lizards, alligators, birds, fish, small mammals and rodents, canines and feline species, as well as primates and humans!


Beetles.. EWWWWW

The staff at the museum are very enthusiastic about their jobs.  On our way out we met John, the general manager. He asked us if we had seen the two tiniest skeletons in the museum.  He took us back in to show us the hummingbird and the tiny shrew.  We saw how the bones had been reassembled after the long arduous cleaning process.

You can even view the flesh eating beetles doing their job!  How cool is that?

OK, maybe a little creepy, but on the way in we expected the whole museum to be a little creepy.  After all, it is skeletons, yet other than the beetles, none of it felt creepy at all.

The bottom line is that this little museum is well worth the visit.  Make sure to take the time to read signs and look for the tiny and the huge displays at all heights in the building.

And yes, you will find yourself also questioning what you knew about animals in general. We highly recommend this one!

Have you visited this museum?  We would love to hear what you loved about it in the comments below.



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Contact us for vacation rental homes in the Disney area at https://vacationorlando.rentals



Dining Out In Orlando with Food Allergies and Dietary Restrictions

Dining Out In Orlando with Food Allergies and Dietary Restrictions


One of the primary reasons we own vacation rental homes is because of my extensive food allergies and other dietary restrictions.  Not only am I allergic to six of the “top eight” labeled allergens, I am also allergic to many other vegetables, grains and fruits that are not required to be labeled in the US.  I also have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease so I cannot have any gluten foods.   I have outlined some of the steps I take when dining out in Orlando so that my family can also enjoy a meal away from home.


Before You Go

If Possible Choose A Disney Property Restaurant

Disney restaurant chefs are very aware of the seriousness of food allergens and gluten free options.  The chefs and staff are trained about cross contamination, prep and cooking issues that affect those with food allergies. When using the dining reservation program, you can submit your special considerations right into your reservation online.

Many off Disney property restaurants, particularly chain restaurants, have staff that are trained as well.  I usually shy away from restaurants that are small business owned as they often do not have the space for separate prep and cooking areas.


Call Ahead and Speak To The Chef or Kitchen Staff

Ask lots of questions, such as:  Do you have separate prep and cooking areas? How are the staff trained in food allergens?  How do they respond to an emergency? Is it possible for you to view ingredient labels?  In some cases I have requested my selection of food on the phone prior to arrival.  Many times we have to go off-menu to accommodate my needs and every experience I have had with a Disney property restaurant they has been more than accommodating.



Be Prepared

Make a laminated card that lists all of  your allergens.  It is helpful for the chef to refer to it while he is preparing your meal.

I also pack a small cooler with something small to eat, just in case.  I usually bring my own salad dressing and a small piece of protein because the restaurant may not be able to meet all my needs.  That way I am guaranteed something to eat.

At The Restaurant


Make Sure You Have Your Epipen With You!

It is estimated that about 50% of fatal food allergy episodes happen outside of the home. To avoid hidden sources of allergens, make sure your table and chairs are well cleaned before sitting down and make sure the staff is aware of your allergens right from the start. If you have called ahead, the staff should be aware of your allergens and should communicate it to you.


Speak With the Chef

The chef will come directly to your table to speak with you.  Don’t be afraid to tell him or her exactly how you would like your meal to be prepared.  This is a good time to give the chef your laminated card for his/her reference while preparing your meal.


Keep Your Selections Simple

I usually order a piece of meat or fish pan seared in only olive oil.  I am very specific about exactly what they can and cannot use.  If available, I ask for my salad to be only romaine lettuce and I use my own salad dressing I have brought from home.   I avoid fried foods and desserts as they have the highest incidences of allergen episodes me and for most individuals.


Make Sure Your Meal Is Delivered Separately By Someone Who Is Aware Of Your Allergens

Confirm your order with the person who has delivered your meal to make sure it was prepared to your specifications.  Many times the serving staff are not as well versed about allergy safety. I can’t count how many times the server have garnished my plate with parsley and I have had to send it back.


Do Not Eat Anything You Suspect And Send It Back If You Are Not Sure

Go with your gut on this one.  I recently had a waitress  who rolled her eyes at me when I explained my allergens and sure enough the information was not conveyed to the chef.  Instead of listening to my gut and sending it back, I ate it and ended up in the ER about an hour later.  If you have a bad feeling about the genuine concern of the wait staff do not be embarrassed to ask for another person to take your order.  Better to mildly offend them, then to end up with a reaction.

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gfriese/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/


Being proactive about my allergens has helped me to reduce my episodes to a point I can enjoy a family meal at their favorite restaurant. This has been especially important to them while we are vacationing, as we love to family time over a leisurely meal.


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Contact us for vacation rental homes in the Disney area at https://vacationorlando.rentals




Five Most Important Factors To Consider When Booking A Vacation Rental Home

 Five factors when booking

Several years ago, my family and I decided we would take an extended trip to the UK to celebrate our children’s educational accomplishments.  As a family, we had never been “across the pond”, as they say, and we were overjoyed at the idea.

However, we already knew that hotel rooms present a problem when trying to meet our dietary needs, or our budget.  Recently we had been reading about renting whole homes for reasonable prices anywhere in the world, so decided to look into it.  So we began the process and it turned out to be quite a learning experience.

There were so many factors to consider when renting a vacation rental home, but what were the most important, at least to us.   After going through that process and then actually renting and enjoying them we have come up with five of the most important considerations that we found to be on the top of our list.  They are listed below, but in no particular order, as each one was just as important as the other four.

1.  Make Sure The Vacation Rental Home Accommodates The Number of People in Your Party, The Way You Want To Be Accommodated.

We were a family of four and finding a home with the right sleeping configurations was a chore at best.  Most of the listings we found said the home would sleep four people, but when we looked further into the details we found that sometimes the sleeping arrangements were on the couch or on the floor on an air mattress.  These configurations were not suitable to us for the extended amount of time we would be staying.  We needed three bedrooms so that our son and daughter could have a place to crash and relax or nap as needed.  It took us some time to find the right homes, but in the long run it was well worth it.


2. Be Clear About What Charges You Are Paying For

We found that each vacation rental home owner had their own pricing structure that can include base rental and any extras such as departure cleans, pool heat, security deposits, accidental damage waiver premiums, etc.  Some of the owners outlined all the costs up front, and some were vague about what the extra costs would be.

We learned to ask lots of questions about the pricing and we only dealt with the owners who would take the time to explain the process to us as well as provide a clear total amount.  We did not want to travel all the way to the UK to find out we had extra costs that would eat into our fun budget.



3. Know What Amenities are Included With Your Rental.

This one we learned the hard way.  One of the homes we rented said they supplied towels.  But when we arrived we found it was just bath towels.  And one per person.  There were no facecloths or hand towels.

Another home we rented advertised free Wi-Fi, but when we arrived we found that the router actually belonged to a neighbor and in order for us to access the Wi-Fi we had to stand in one spot in the living room just to get a weak signal.  At the time we were trying to SKYPE with an ill relative back home on a daily basis, which meant all huddling around the person holding the computer, making the task somewhat difficult.

Vacation rental homes are often self-catering which means you will supply your own toilet paper, dish soap, soap and shampoo, etc.  By knowing this up front you can make the necessary accommodations needed for your family. Always ask the homeowner if they have an amenities list.  Many owners have a website that lists what is included and if there is an extra fee for them.

4.  Plan Arrival and Departure Times Around Check-in and Check-out Times of the Home

Most vacation rental owners have check-in and check-out times in place. Knowing what they are is very helpful in planning your travels, because they there is usually not much flexibility around them.  In general it  takes longer to prepare a rental home for the next guest than it would for a hotel room, and the check-in/check-out times are arranged to account for this.  Remember, in a vacation rental home there are multiple rooms to clean, as well as the outside areas.

Often times housekeeping will arrive within minutes of your departure to get the home ready for the next guest.  Some owners do have early check-in or late check-out times, but be prepared to pay an extra fee for this.  The owner generally has to block the home for the 24 hours prior or after in order to accommodate this.


5. Be Sure to Know the Rules and Policies of the Home

The last thing you want to happen is to arrive with Fido only to find out he can’t stay in the home with you.  Make sure if you are traveling with pets that you rent from a pet friendly home.

Most vacation rental homes prohibit smoking.   This not only just keeps the house from smelling bad, but helps keep the home free from allergens for the next guests.  Our son has life threatening asthma, and just being in an area that a smoker has been in can bring on an attack for him.  We had to make absolutely sure that every home we rented was smoke free.

In Florida, each resort establishes their own set of rules above and beyond the owners policies.  These usually include quiet hours, limits on number of vehicles allowed for each home (this is to reduce large parties), and rules about the types of vehicles allowed. Most resorts do not allow RVs or towed vehicles.  For those traveling with these vehicles, arrangements must be made off-site to store your RV or boat.


So as you can imagine, time spent up front in getting to know what you are renting before you go can save a lot of time spent being uncomfortable or worse when you go.  It can make the difference between a great vacation and a disastrous one.  Our UK trip was not perfect, but there wasn’t anything that made it disastrous.  And we had a great time and still reminisce about our experiences.
Do you have a tip to share?  Please comment below.

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Contact us for vacation rental homes in the Disney area at https://vacationorlando.rentals

Think You’re Cut Out For Stopping Evil With Phineas & Ferb?

Phineas & Ferb
Save the day and become your own special agent and work along with Agent P to stop the evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz from doing his evil deeds!

If you are at Epcot with young children and they are not all that excited about touring the various country pavilions, Disney has some help for you. In July of 2012 a new interactive game was announced and the younger children love it. In Phineas & Ferb: Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure at EPCOT , they get to be Secret Agents and work with Agent P (Perry the Platypus) to prevent the evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz from doing some new evil deed, such as use his “Sinkinator” to sink the Viking Longships in Norway.

Your job as a secret agent is to search for clues and hidden details in order to prevent him from using his “Sinkinator” or whatever “inator” he has invented this time. There are seven different country Pavilions where the missions take place and all will have different interactive props that can be activated only by you!

Photo Credit: lorenjavier License: Creative Commons

In this interactive game you will be asked for help by Major Francis Monogram and Carl the intern from OWCA (Organization without a cool Acronym). The game is free and to get started you will need to stop by either the Italy Pavilion or near the International Gateway to pick up your high tech detection device, called Field Operative Notification Equipment or F.O.N.E. (it is actually a cell phone). The F.O.N.E. will then give you instructions on where to start your mission, and what it is all about. Each mission can take 30 to 45 minutes, so plan to put enough time aside.

This game is designed to be entertaining for younger children and will charm them with the interactive items involved in each mission. Using the F.O.N.E. they will be able to make various props do things like receive messages or have statues rising up out of a fish pond.

The only possible down side is that your children may want to spend a good part of the day completing several of the missions, but then again if it makes them happy, that is why you are there in the first place. Now go have fun!

We would love to hear about your experiences with Phineas and Ferb.   Please comment below.

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Contact us for vacation rental homes in the Disney area at https://vacationorlando.rentals




Insanely good entertainment at five family-friendly restaurants in Walt Disney World.

Insanely good entertainment at five family-friendly restaurants in Walt Disney World.
Sixty percent of the travelers to the Orlando area come to visit the Disney Parks and many hope to have a special meal to commemorate their visit.
Did you know that if you ate at a different restaurant, in the Orlando area, for all of your meals every day, it would take you more than five years to eat at every restaurant?
There are so many choices to write about it was a hard decision to narrow it down. I finally decided on Disney dining with entertainment. Sixty percent of the travelers to the Orlando area come to visit the Disney parks and many hope to have a special meal to commemorate their visit. Here are our top five choices.

 California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort Hotel

My favorite is the California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The entertainment is the incredible views and the Fireworks Spectacular Show at Magic Kingdom park. I have visited this restaurant a couple of times and have loved the experience. They are very friendly and helpful providing me alternatives for my food allergies.

This restaurant which is located on the 15th floor of the hotel , has beautiful views right from your table and two observation decks to walk along. See the serene Seven Seas Lagoon, as well as lots of Orlando’s famous icons such as the Orlando Eye, EPCOT Spaceship Earth, Hollywood Studio’s Tower of Terror and Animal Kingdom’s Tree of Life.

No worries if you dine before the fireworks. All you have to do is return and show your receipt from that date and they will escort you up to the observation deck.


Menu type: Fresh, seasonal Californian
Kids Menu: ages 9 and under
price range $$$
dress code: yes
reservations: required
Dining plans: Dining, Deluxe, Premium, Platinum

Magic Kingdom from California grill



Rainforest Cafe at Disney Springs and Animal Kingdom

Located in two great locations this restaurant is a great place for kids. Dine in the midst of the Amazon Jungle with large brightly colored fish, noisy gorillas, elephants and birds, and a roaring, passing thunderstorm every few minutes. We have dined a few times at both locations. Our favorite is the Disney Springs location but it is also the busier of the two locations.

Menu type: American Tropical including salads, pastas, burgers, seafood, chicken and steaks
Kids Menu: ages 10 and under
price range: $$
dress code: no
reservations: highly recommended for dinner, walk up time can be as long as 2 hours.
Dining plans: Dining, Deluxe, Premium, Platinum

Rainforest cafe

T-Rex at Disney Springs

I have never dined at this restaurant but I can tell by walking by it is a very lively and popular restaurant. Families with younger children are drawn here.
Guests will step back in time to the Jurassic Period in this themed restaurant with giant wooly mammoths, an animated giant octopus, and a roaring 15 foot T-Rex dinosaur. After dinner be sure to wander the restaurant to each room to see the diverse landscapes from ice caverns to forests with giant wasps all under the occasional meteor shower. Located at Disney Springs.

Menu type: American
Kids Menu:
price range $$
dress code no
reservations: recommended
Dining plans: Dining, Deluxe, Premium, Platinum

San Angel Inn Restaurante in EPCOT

This restaurant is a must for my son, now 22 years old. Since he was little he has had an interest in acient history, including the Mayans. When we dine here, is is at lunchtime because it is easier to get a reservation and the menu is more affordable. His favorite dish is the Red Snapper.
Guests will dine in twilight at the base of a Mayan temple and watch for the hidden mickey in the spewing volcano in the distance. Wave to the passing passengers from the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros ride. After dinner stop over and take the ride yourself.

Menu type: Mexican
Kids Menu: ages 9 and under
price range: $$
dress code: no
reservations: recommended, not necessary for lunch
Dining plans: Dining, Deluxe, Premium, Platinum

Mexican Pavillion at EPCOT

The BOATHOUSE at Disney Springs

One of the newest restaurants at Disney Springs is the BOATHOUSE.  Food and atmosphere here are great.  Choose between sitting inside or outside.

Guests will spend the evening dining on the waterfront with live music and spend some time viewing the fleet of rare boats from around the world. For an additional fee, you can take guided tours on the water in the Amphicar.

Menu type: American Gourmet
Kids Menu: yes, no ages given on website
price range: $$$-$$$$
dress code no
reservations: highly recommended
Dining plans: Dining, Deluxe, Premium, Platinum

The Rain Survival Guide; 5 Ways To Enjoy The Rain In Orlando

oh boy its raining
Oh no! You’ve arrived in Sunny Florida to find out there is a rainy day in the forecast.   Although the Florida sun does shine an average of 300 days per year,  there are also many rainy days.  During the summer months,  from June to September, the heat can spawn daily afternoon showers.  These showers are usually short and intermittent. Here are several ideas to help you enjoy the rain.
raining poncho

Be Adventurous and Go To the Parks Anyway

Break out that rain poncho you brought with you  (What Wikipedia Can’t Tell You; 12 Must Haves For The Parks) and enjoy the smaller crowds in the parks.  Most queues are covered and there are plenty of indoor attractions:  It’s Tough To Be A Bug! at Animal Kingdom, Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor at the Magic Kingdom, Muppet Vision 3-D show at Hollywood Studios are all indoor attractions to enjoy during the heavier rains.  If you are playing the Phineas & Ferb: Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure at EPCOT game, head for the Mexican Pavilion and play entirely indoors.

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Photo Credit: mcchots   Creative Commons License

Go To I-360 Drive

There are numerous places to visit in this area for indoor activities. Madame Tussauds, Skeletons: Animals Unveiled, WonderWorks Orlando, iFly Orlando and the SeaLife Aquarium are all indoor activities in the I-360 drive area. There are plenty of entertainment and learning venues to be found.  See our Insider’s Guide: I-360 Drive for more details.


Shop Until You Drop

Orlando is known for its theme parks but it  also known has great shopping centers and malls that cater to all preferences and budgets. In addition, Highway 192 is lined with numerous gift shops to bring back that special Florida souvenir.  See our Insider’s guide: Shopping page for information about several of the area malls.
day trip

Take a Day Trip 

Check the weather radar often because the rain can be local to certain areas.  Just an hour drive may bring you back to the Florida sun that you are seeking. If you travel west, explore the gulf coast beaches.  Our favorite is watching the pelicans dive into the water on Anna Maria Island’s Holmes Beach.  Traveling east will take you to Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach or Daytona Beach.  The Kennedy Space Center is located on Cape Canaveral. If you drive north to Ocala, you can see some of the finest horse farms in the country.  The nationally renowned horseman, Pat Parelli, has a ranch in the Ocala area that we visit when we are up there.
reading wine

Plan for Some Down Time

A trip to Orlando and its theme parks can often times leave you feeling like you haven’t had time to rest and relax. Instead of rushing off to do more, enjoy a day at your vacation rental home. You will be glad you didn’t rent a cramped hotel room.  Let the kids play in the home’s game room, curl up with your favorite book and a cup of tea or rent a Disney movie that features your favorite attraction from the parks; our favorite is Monsters Inc.  Making a special family meal together in the fully-equipped kitchen is a great way to connect and make memories.

No matter what your family decides to do on a rainy day in Orlando, you are sure to find something for everyone. Have fun playing in the rain!

Contact us for vacation rental homes in the Disney area at https://vacationorlando.rentals